Can you predict your customers’ behavior?

Human Behaviour is 93% Predictable.

As per a paper published in 2010 on the ‘Limits of Predictability in Human Mobility’, scientists could determine where people go daily. It was 93% predictable in principle. That is a big number, but it’s based entirely on empirical data. Human beings don’t follow any logic individually, but when we study aggregate behavior, we can find repetitive patterns.

Of late, the term ‘predictable’ is used rather loosely when it comes to customers. As a marketer, I have come across various plans and strategies where we conjecture about our customer’s decision making without any actual research.

crystal ball which cannot predict now
Image Source

Let’s take the Purchase funnel for instance. They’re based solely on the concept that people are predictable. But are they really? Can we really generalize our entire audience, their needs, beliefs, situations, decision-making, journey to purchase, etc., on a basic level, and make predictions without a pragmatic approach?

Fun fact : the funnel that marketers and sales teams still use all over the world was created 120 years back. We have been playing around with versions of the funnel for over a century.

The Origin of the Funnel

Back in 1898, E. St. Elmo Lewis created the first-ever purchase funnel to arrange the purchase journey. He mapped a theoretical customer journey, starting from the moment a brand/product attracted customer attention, to the point of purchase.

AIDA funnel model
Image Source

You may have seen it in the form of a Customer funnel, sales funnel, marketing funnel, or conversion funnel. It’s commonly called the AIDA funnel model and has been used as the backbone for systematizing an organization’s sale.

It suggests that all prospects linearly go through 4 cognitive stages while making purchase decisions:

  • AWARENESS / ATTENTION – the prospect becomes aware of the product or brand.
  • INTEREST – The prospect becomes interested, and wants to learn more about the product or brand.
  • DESIRE – The prospect develops an inclination to said brand or product.
  • ACTION – The prospect has an intention to buy, and takes the first action towards making a purchase.

Over the years, this funnel has been refined in hundreds of ways. It has worked out well for years, but the world is a lot more complex now, and so are customer journeys.

What’s wrong with the Funnel?

People don’t make purchase decisions like they used to. Today, prospects enter the funnel at any stage and rarely take a linear journey. Consumers are now better informed, and hence more empowered. They don’t funnel down through a series of predictable steps anymore.

90% of buyers can be finished with their purchase journey before they even contact a salesperson. (Source)

The buyers’ journey is like a choose-your-own-adventure children’s book or an interactive movie like Netflix’s ‘Bandersnatch’. The customer is presented with different choices, and each decision leads to a different outcome. Modern customers are really unpredictable. How can we chronologize how our customers will collectively think or react? How can we treat every prospect equally and try to have the same conversation?

So, can you really predict your Customers’ Behavior?

Customer behavior has changed substantially, and so has the journey that they follow. We cannot predict every step of the customer since unpredictability is a fundamental part of human nature. But hey, we live in a data-driven world, where we have unprecedented access to the customers’ journey. We can definitely understand how our customers function if we look close enough.

Understand your Customer better

It’s imperative to get an inside view of what your prospects and customers want. Just looking at how they interact with your website, can answer a lot of questions – What are their intentions? What is their level of interest? What are their probable future actions? So on and so forth.

With Freshmarketer’s Conversation rate optimization module, you can deep dive into understanding your visitor experience. Capture clicks, taps, scrolls on the website with heatmaps, while testing different versions to know what works better. Segment your fragmented visitors into different groups on the basis of geography, source/medium, campaigns, technology, query parameters, days of the week, and much more.

In fact, you can see how the conversions actually take place. With Sessions Replay, you can see exactly how visitors move through the website. Forget about surface-level metrics, and really understand how your visitors are behaving and why.

Improve Customer Experience

Did you know: changing small elements like layouts, messaging, placement of CTA’s, color of buttons, etc., can change how people interact with your website? It’s time to stop assuming anything, remove all the guesswork, and start experimenting with an open mind.

A/B testing customer predictions

You can create different versions of your web pages, run A/B tests, identify what works or doesn’t, and keep optimizing your website and pages for data-backed reasons. This would not only improve the customer experience but will also help you understand your customers better.

Create Personalized Journeys

Since there is no particular order or set of decisions that a customer follows to make a purchase, you have to be ready for every scenario. Ensure that you grab every opportunity to send personalized emails and communication on the basis of your customer’s individual journey.

With Freshmarketer’s Journeys, you can tailor the way your customers receive every message, and automate their entire journey with absolute ease. Send them emails based on triggers, events, actions, and conditions, where every message is conveyed purely on the basis of your customers’ actions.

Freshmarketer Journey

It is high time we stop treating all our prospects as equal since all of them don’t have the same agenda, awareness, or level of interest in your product. The one-size-fits-all marketing concept needs to go. Treat your customers like the distinctive individuals that they are, try to understand them better, and you can make on-point data-backed predictions.

You can predict your customer behavior, but only if you’re willing to delve into the why’s, keep experimenting, understand more, optimize, and repeat. Predictability is all about information after all.